Tidewater Reads is launching its third program this April featuring Kwame Alexander, poet, educator and the New York Times Bestselling author of 24 books. The book selected as the focus for 2018 is Alexander's recently published book, Solo. Described as "...a rhythmic, impassioned ode to family, identity, and the history of rock and roll," by Booklist, Solo was written with Mary Rand Hess and published in October 2017.
To get the community excited for a month of celebrating the famed poet, Tidewater Reads is hosting four keystone events and a poetry contest.
February 26 - March 16: Poetry Contest Open for Entries
Tidewater Reads is challenging those of all ages to submit a piece of their own original work to the Tidewater Reads Poetry contest. The contest will be open for entries February 26 through 5 p.m. on March 16, 2018. Entry forms and contest guidelines are available through the Tidewater Reads website, the York County Public Library website, and at each participating library including the Tabb and Yorktown Libraries. There are five age categories from kindergarten to adult, and the top three poems from each participating locality will move on to be judged in the Tidewater Reads regional competition. Prizes will be awarded for first, second, and third place winners in each age division on Saturday, April 28, during the Kwame Reads event at the Slover Library, 235 E. Plume St. in Norfolk. Winning entries will be compiled into a digital poetry book made available at TidewaterReads.org.
April 5: Battle of the Bands
Tidewater Reads month will kick off with the Battle of the Bands on April 5 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the FM Restaurant, located at 320 Granby St. in Norfolk. Six bands will go head-to-head with 20 minutes of stage time competing for a prize. This event is free to attend and bands interested in performing are encouraged to visit the Tidewater Reads website to submit an entry form for consideration.
April 14: Poetry, Prose and Pizza Open Mic Night
On April 14 Nathan Richardson, accomplished performance poet and published author, will host a Poetry, Prose and Pizza Open Mic Night from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center, 2410 Wickham Ave. in Newport News. Sign up to read a selection or just come and enjoy listening to other people perform. Those participating can bring their own work to share or choose a favorite piece to recite. Pizza is provided by Vito's Pizza and Italian Restaurant. RSVP on the Tidewater Reads website. Open Mic Night is free to attend.
April 28: Kwame Reads: The Main Event
The community will get the chance to meet Kwame Alexander at Kwame Reads: The Main Event on April 28, a final Tidewater Reads celebration to wrap up the month. Kwame Reads will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Slover Library, 235 E. Plume St., in Norfolk. It includes a book signing and talk with Kwame and a poetry awards ceremony. Seating will be available on a first-come first-served basis; The doors will open at 2:30 p.m. Kwame Reads is free to attend.
May 4: Verbal 2 Visual Art Reception
To keep the celebration going, on May 4 there will be a Verbal 2 Visual Art Reception and Awards Presentation from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Suffolk Art Gallery, 118 Bosley Ave. This evening will kick off the Suffolk Art League and Suffolk Art Gallery's Juried Exhibition of artwork inspired by the works of Kwame Alexander. The reception is free and open to the public. Artists interested in submitting work must complete the exhibit entry form available through the Tidewater Reads website by March 30, 2018. Cash prizes will be awarded. The exhibit will be on display from May 4 to June 8, 2018.
Information about other Tidewater Reads events hosted by participating organizations will be announced on the Tidewater Reads Facebook page.
More About Kwame Alexander
Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 25 books including Rebound, the follow-up to his Newbery Medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. Alexander writes for children of all ages. Some of his other works include The Playbook: 52 Rules to Help You Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game of Life; the picture books, Surf's Up, Animal Ark and Out of Wonder; and the novels, Solo and Booked.
A regular contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, Alexander is the recipient of several awards, including The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Prize, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. He believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people around the world through his Writing Workshop. Alexander has led cultural exchange delegations to Brazil, Italy, Singapore, and to Ghana, where he is training teachers and building a library and health clinic, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded. The 2018 NEA Read Across America Ambassador, Alexander is also the host and producer of the literary variety/talk show, Bookish, which airs on Facebook Watch.
More About Tidewater Reads
Tidewater Reads is a literary collaborative that began in 2015. Its goal is to promote the value of reading and to build a sense of community by engaging the residents of the Tidewater Region in talking about the same book at the same time. Public libraries in Eastern Shore, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and York County joined with the Muse Writing Center and the Suffolk Art League to sponsor this year's initiative. For more information, visit Tidewater Reads. Follow Tidewater Reads on Facebook and Instagram.